The popularity of specialist craft gins is on the increase – bringing with it a wealth of high quality and inventive spirits to meet demand. The diversity is impressive, with flavour profiles ranging from sweet to citrussy, spicy and woody.
I’ve picked out five gins to tickle the tastebuds of any gin connoisseur – and what’s more, you won’t find them in any other supermarket. Read on to find your new favourite.
Despite the name, this is an American brand – they’ve been distilling for thirty years in California. You get three gins for the price of one:
- Terroir, made with botanicals of Douglas Fir, Coastal Sage and Californian Bay Laurel which combine to give it a wonderful ‘foresty’ nose.
- Botanivore has 19 different botanicals, including angelica root, bay laurel, ‘cilantro’ (coriander to you and me), Seville orange peel, star anise and juniper berries, among others. It’s like a greenhouse in a bottle.
- Dry Rye is made like a whiskey, with 100% rye base, making it warm, malty and spicy. The botanicals are juniper, black peppercorn, caraway, coriander, grapefruit peel and lime peel.
Distilled in the Lake District with local spring water and the unique ingredient of Cumbrian oak bark. This gin has won several awards since its launch in 2008, but is new to Ocado. Reviewer ‘evekarina’ says it ‘tastes pure and mellow, definitely my new favourite’.
Fresh citrus essence forms most of the flavour profile, with juniper just a subtle undertone. Add basil and lime to make the best G&T.
During the Victorian era, when gin palaces were everywhere, Cream Gin was a popular tipple. The original distillation process has been modernised – this gin is cold-distilled using fresh cream as a botanical (the equivalent of 100ml cream per bottle!) to capture its flavour in a perfectly clear spirit.
Because the cream is never heated during the distillation process, no ‘burnt’ or ‘off’ flavours end up in the finished product. It has the same shelf-life as any other distilled spirit.
Vanilla scents are really strong, but you can also get orange and lemon citrus notes. It’s very sweet and tastes quite rich.
‘Navy Strength’ is something you’ll hear bandied about amongst gin enthusiasts. Rumour has it the term comes from the British Navy demanding that gin be a minimum ABV of 57% so that, when it splashed on the gunpowder, it would still ignite. (It might have also been to do with weight-saving but that’s a lot less fun as a fact to impress your friends.)
Wrapped in illustrated brown paper, tied with string and dipped in wax to seal, the bottle makes a gorgeous gift.
The botanicals in this gin go through a ‘bashing up’ process by hand (real terminology) before maceration to release a stronger flavour. This also changes the colour slightly, making it almost golden.
Top-notes of cinnamon and cardamom are supported by earthier coriander and clove. It’s produced in small batches using a traditional method called cold compounding, where botanicals such as orange peel and cardamom are left to infuse in high-quality pot-distilled grain spirit. You can actually sip this gin solo on ice.
This gin is distilled in small batches in a copper still affectionately named ‘Connie’ after the Master Distiller’s late mother, Constance. They went through 12 strengths during the 18 months they spent perfecting the recipe, and after a blind tasting, number 8 was selected as the best. Juniper and coriander notes dominate initially, quickly followed by that zing and slight sweetness of citrus, with the lingering and complex length of liquorice, pine and grassy notes, and an incomparably smooth finish.
Marlena, Spirits Buyer